CAF gives Airmen tools to bounce back

by Senior Airman Brittany A. Chase
Misawa Air Base

MISAWA AIR BASE, Japan -- The Air Force cut 25,000 Airmen in 2015, reducing the numbers to an all-time low while keeping the same mission. This caused military members to experience considerable, constant and diverse stressors during their careers.

To educate the service how to bounce back from tough times, four years ago the Air Force implemented the Comprehensive Airman Fitness program with the intent to keep Airmen resilient in a constantly changing environment.

“You cannot fight a war, you cannot fly airplanes and you cannot do anything without people,” said Debbie Stevens, the 35th Fighter Wing community support coordinator. “The quality of those people depend on their ability to make decisions, to include their emotional maturity, spiritual resilience and their physical fitness. If you don't have that in place, you don't have much of a force.”

CAF is described as a holistic approach to develop overarching Airman fitness and fortitude. Each domain plays a vital role in the overall wellness of every Airman.

“Some of our service members who don’t have natural resiliency have never been taught the skills to combat harder times,” Stevens said. “Being able to learn how to be resilient and handle lives with really messy stuff through Comprehensive Airmen Fitness can help create war-ready Airmen by showing them how the four domains feed into their overall wellness.”

CAF has four domains: Physical, Spiritual, Mental and Social. Physical fitness refers to the ability to physically accomplish all aspects of the mission while remaining healthy and uninjured. Spiritual fitness refers to the ability to adhere to beliefs, principles or values needed to persevere and prevail in accomplishing missions. Psychological fitness is the ability to effectively cope with the unique mental stressors and challenges needed to ensure mission readiness. Social fitness means to be able to engage in healthy social networks that promote overall well-being and optimal performance.

“What learning about CAF has taught me, and what it can teach everybody, is if they actually practice it, you can learn some of those lessons earlier on without such traumatic events,” said Master Sgt. Daniel Singleton, the 35th Logistics Readiness Squadron fuel information center section chief. “It allows you to be a little wiser beyond your years without going through the hardships that maybe our moms, dads, grandmas and grandpas have had to go through to learn the same principles.”

CAF may be an annual requirement by the Air Force, but is meant to be a life-changing program to help combat life stressors.

Singleton said he’s no exception to life taking a toll on him. He talked about how he used to be overweight, but through CAF he has learned how each domain impacts him and how a healthy balance of all domains can help him stay resilient.

“No one's life is immune from troubles or hardships. CAF helps to teach you it's the people around you who are willing to be there and they help you even when they don't have to,” Singleton said. “I know deep down I'm not alone and people around me are there for me. That's what keeps me going because every day I get up and I have an opportunity to be that for someone else.”

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